In vitro growth of immature oocytes provides opportunities to increase gametic resources and to understand the mechanisms underlying oocyte development. Many studies on the in vitro growth of oocytes have been reported thus far; however, only a few cases have been reported, which demonstrated that oocytes can support full-term development after in vitro fertilization. Our research group recently found that culture of mouse neonatal primordial follicles increased the birthrate; however, the establishment of an in vitro system that can completely mimic follicle or oocyte growth in vivo and control oogenesis remains an ongoing challenge.
Gene targeting technologies are essential for the analysis of gene functions. Knockout mouse generation via genetic modification of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) is the commonest example, but it is a time-consuming and labor-intensive procedure. Recently, a novel genome editing technology called CRISPR/Cas has enabled the direct production of knockout mice by non-homologous end joining (NHEJ)-mediated mutations. Unexpectedly, however, it generally exhibits a low efficiency in homologous recombination (HR) and is prone to high mosaicism. Meanwhile, gene targeting using ESCs is still being improved, as reported by Fukuda et al. in this issue. Here, we outline current gene targeting technologies with special emphasis on HR-mediated technologies, which are currently being performed using these two major strategies.
The purpose of this study was to determine whether dithiothreitol (DTT) treatment of sperm and ethanol activation improve embryo production by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Further, we compared ICSI with standard in vitro fertilization (IVF) in oocytes obtained from cattle. We demonstrated that DTT reduced the disulfide bond in the bovine sperm head. Using oocytes obtained from a slaughterhouse, ICSI-DTT treatment without ethanol showed the highest rate of blastocyst formation. We applied these results to fertilization using ovum pick-up (OPU). Eleven Japanese black cattle served as donors for OPU plus standard IVF (OPU-IVF). Of them, four donors with low embryo development rates were selected to determine whether embryo development was enhanced by OPU plus ICSI (OPU-ICSI). We assessed effects on embryo development following IVF and ICSI in oocytes obtained using OPU. Blastocyst rates were significantly higher for OPU-ICSI than for OPU-IVF. Our results suggest that OPU-ICSI improves the blastocyst development rate in donors with low embryo production compared with the standard OPU-IVF.
In the rat, induction of maternal behavior depends on the parity of the female. For example, nulliparous (NP) females need longer exposure to pups than multiparous (MP) or lactating (L) females to exhibit similar maternal behavior. In this study, we investigated the role of brain oxytocin in the approaching behavior of these female rats. Olfactory preferences for pup odors were examined for 8 consecutive days. Each preference test was followed by direct overnight exposure to pups. On the 8th day, MP and L, but not NP females showed robust pup-odor preferences. After the behavioral test, half of the females were exposed to pups for 2 h, whereas the other half were not. The females were then sacrificed to analyze brain oxytocin (OXT) and vasopressin (AVP) activities by cFos immunohistochemistry and to quantify their receptor mRNA expression using real-time PCR. In the paraventricular nucleus (PVN), the percentage of cFos-positive OXT neurons was significantly larger in MP and L females than in NP females after pup exposure. No significant differences were found in cFos expression in OXT neurons of the supraoptic nucleus (SON) or in AVP neurons of either the PVN or SON. Expression of OXT receptor mRNA in the medial preoptic area and amygdala of the control groups was also higher in MP females than in NP females. Finally, we demonstrated that infusion of OXT into the lateral ventricle of NP females promoted preferences for pup odors. These results indicate that puerperal and parental experiences enhance the responsiveness of OXT neurons in the PVN to pup stimuli and establish olfactory preferences for these odors in a parity-dependent manner.
MX belongs to a family of type I interferon (IFN)-stimulated genes, and the MX protein has antiviral activity. MX has at least two isoforms, known as MX1 and MX2, in mammals. Moreover, bovine MX1 has been found to have alternative splice variants—namely, MX1-a and MX1B. In ruminants, IFN-τ—a type I IFN—is temporarily produced from the conceptus before implantation and induces MX expression in the endometrium. However, the expression dynamics of MX after implantation are not clear. In the present study, we investigated the expression of MX1-a, MX1B and MX2 in the endometrium and placenta before and after implantation along with the expression of IFN-α, type I receptors (IFNAR1 and IFNAR2) and interferon regulatory factors (IRF3 and IRF9). Pregnant uterine samples were divided into five groups according to pregnancy days 14–18, 25–40, 50–70, 80–100, and 130–150. Tissue samples were collected from the intercaruncular endometrium (IC), caruncular endometrium (C) and fetal placenta (P). Although all the MX expressions were significantly higher in the IC and C at days 14–18, presumably caused by embryo-secreted IFN-τ stimulation, their expressions were also detectable in the IC, C and P after implantation. Furthermore, IFN-α expression was significantly higher in the IC. RT-PCR indicated IFNAR1, IFNAR2, IRF3 and IRF9 mRNA in all the tissues during pregnancy. These results suggest that all the MX genes are affected by the type I IFN pathway during pregnancy and are involved in an immune response to protect the mother and fetus.
The production of transgenic animals is an important tool for experimental and applied biology. Over the years, many approaches for the production of transgenic animals have been tried, including pronuclear microinjection, sperm-mediated gene transfer, transfection of male germ cells, somatic cell nuclear transfer and the use of lentiviral vectors. In the present study, we developed a new transgene delivery approach, and we report for the first time the production of transgenic animals by co-injection of DNA and round spermatid nuclei into non-fertilized mouse oocytes (ROSI). The transgene used was a construct containing the human CMV immediate early promoter and the enhanced GFP gene. With this procedure, 12% of the live offspring we obtained carried the transgene. This efficiency of transgenic production by ROSI was similar to the efficiency by pronuclear injection or intracytoplasmic injection of male gamete nuclei (ICSI). However, ICSI required fewer embryos to produce the same number of transgenic animals. The expression of Egfp mRNA and fluorescence of EGFP were found in the majority of the organs examined in 4 transgenic lines generated by ROSI. Tissue morphology and transgene expression were not distinguishable between transgenic animals produced by ROSI or pronuclear injection. Furthermore, our results are of particular interest because they indicate that the transgene incorporation mediated by intracytoplasmic injection of male gamete nuclei is not an exclusive property of mature sperm cell nuclei with compact chromatin but it can be accomplished with immature sperm cell nuclei with decondensed chromatin as well. The present study also provides alternative procedures for transgene delivery into embryos or reconstituted oocytes.
Tubulointerstitial nephritis antigen-like 1 (Tinagl1, also known as adrenocortical zonation factor 1 [AZ-1] or lipocalin 7) is a matricellular protein. Previously, we demonstrated that Tinagl1 expression was restricted to extraembryonic regions during the postimplantation period and detected marked expression in mouse Reichert’s membranes. In uteri, Tinagl1 is markedly expressed in the decidual endometrium during the postimplantation period, suggesting that it plays a physical and physiological role in embryo development and/or decidualization of the uterine endometrium during pregnancy. In the present study, in order to determine the role of Tinagl1 during embryonic development and pregnancy, we generated Tinagl1-deficient mice. Although Tinagl1–/– embryos were not lethal during development to term, homologous matings of Tinagl1–/– females and Tinagl1–/– males showed impaired fertility during pregnancy, including failure to carry pregnancy to term and perinatal lethality. To examine ovarian function, ovulation was induced with equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG); the number of ovulated oocytes did not differ between Tinagl1–/– and Tinagl1flox/flox. In vitro fertilization followed by embryo culture also demonstrated the normal developmental potential of Tinagl1-null embryos during the preimplantation period. Our results demonstrate that Tinagl1 deficiency affects female mice and results in subfertility phenotypes, and they suggest that although the potential of Tinagl1–/– oocytes is normal, Tinagl1 is related to fertility in adult females but is not essential for either fertilization or preimplantation development in vitro.
We previously established trophoblast stem cells from mouse androgenetic embryos (AGTS cells). In this study, to further characterize AGTS cells, we compared cell proliferation activity between trophoblast stem (TS) cells and AGTS cells under fibroblast growth factor 4 (FGF4) signaling. TS cells continued to proliferate and maintained mitotic cell division in the presence of FGF4. After FGF4 deprivation, the cell proliferation stopped, the rate of M-phase cells decreased, and trophoblast giant cells formed. In contrast, some of AGTS cells continued to proliferate, and the rate of M-phase cells did not decrease after FGF4 deprivation, although the other cells differentiated into giant cells. RO3306, an ATP competitor that selectively inhibits CDK1, inhibited the cell proliferation of both TS and AGTS cells. Under RO3306 treatment, cell death was induced in AGTS cells but not in TS cells. These results indicate that RO3306 caused TS cells to shift mitotic cell division to endoreduplication but that some of AGTS cells did not shift to endoreduplication and induced cell death. In conclusion, the paternal genome facilitated the proliferation of trophoblast cells without FGF4 signaling.
Gene expression of epidermal growth factor (EGF), transforming growth factor-α (TGF-α) and EGF receptor (EGF-R) and the localization of the corresponding proteins in the canine testis were studied. Levels of mRNA expressions were determined by semiquantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction in the testes of the peripubertal (4–6 months), young adult (3–4 years), advanced adult (7–8 years) and senescent (11–16 years) groups. The EGF-R mRNA level in the testes of the peripubertal group was significantly higher than those in the other groups, whereas there was no difference in EGF and TGF-α mRNA levels among groups. Immunohistochemical stainings for EGF, TGF-α and EGF-R in the testis revealed that immunoreactivity in the seminiferous epithelium and Sertoli cell was weak and nonspecific for the stage of spermatogenesis, and distinct staining was found in Leydig cells. These results suggest that the EGF family of growth factors may be involved in testicular maturation and function in the dog.
GPR30 is known as a membrane receptor for picomolar concentrations of estradiol. The GPR30-specific agonist G1 causes a rapid, non-genomic suppression of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)-induced luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion from bovine anterior pituitary (AP) cells. A few studies have recently clarified that protein kinase A (PKA) and phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (pERK) might be involved in cytoplasmic signaling pathways of GPR30 in other cells. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that PKA and ERK kinase (MEK) are important cytoplasmic mediators for GPR30-associated non-genomic suppression of GnRH-induced LH secretion from bovine AP cells. Bovine AP cells (n = 8) were cultured for 3 days under steroid-free conditions. The AP cells were previously treated for 30 min with one of the following: 5000 nM of PKA inhibitor (H89), 1000 nM of MEK inhibitor (U0126), or a combination of H89 and U0126. Next, the AP cells were treated with 0.01 nM estradiol for 5 min before GnRH stimulation. Estradiol treatment without inhibitor pretreatment significantly suppressed GnRH-induced LH secretion (P < 0.01). In contrast, estradiol treatment after pretreatment with H89, U0126 or their combination had no suppressive effect on GnRH-induced LH secretion. The inhibitors also inhibited the G1 suppression of GnRH-induced LH secretion. Therefore, these data supported the hypothesis that PKA and MEK (thus, also pERK) are the intracellular mediators downstream of GPR30 that induce the non-genomic suppression of GnRH-induced LH secretion from bovine AP cells by estradiol or G1.
Nuclear reprogramming induced by somatic cell nuclear transfer is an inefficient process, and donor cell DNA methylation status is thought to be a major factor affecting cloning efficiency. Here, the role of donor cell DNA methylation status regulated by 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-aza-dC) or 5-methyl-2'-deoxycytidine-5'-triphosphate (5-methyl-dCTP) in the early development of porcine cloned embryos was investigated. Our results showed that 5-aza-dC or 5-methyl-dCTP significantly reduced or increased the global methylation levels and altered the methylation and expression levels of key genes in donor cells. However, the development of cloned embryos derived from these cells was reduced. Furthermore, disrupted pseudo-pronucleus formation and transcripts of early embryo development-related genes were observed in cloned embryos derived from these cells. In conclusion, our results demonstrated that alteration of the DNA methylation status of donor cells by 5-aza-dC or 5-methyl-dCTP disrupted nuclear reprogramming and impaired the developmental competence of porcine cloned embryos.
The effects of lipid-rich bovine serum albumin (LR-BSA) on the development of porcine blastocysts produced in vitro were examined. Addition of 0.5 to 5 mg/ml LR-BSA to porcine blastocyst medium (PBM) from Day 5 (Day 0 = in vitro fertilization) significantly increased the hatching rates of blastocysts on Day 7 and the total cell numbers in Day-7 blastocysts. When Day-5 blastocysts were cultured with PBM alone, PBM containing LR-BSA, recombinant human serum albumin or fatty acid-free BSA, addition of LR-BSA significantly enhanced hatching rates and the cell number in blastocysts that survived compared with other treatments. The diameter, ATP content and numbers of both inner cell mass and total cells in Day-6 and Day-7 blastocysts cultured with PBM containing LR-BSA were significantly higher than in blastocysts cultured with PBM alone, whereas LR-BSA had no effect on mitochondrial membrane potential. The mRNA levels of enzymes involved in fatty acid metabolism and β-oxidation (ACSL1, ACSL3, CPT1, CPT2 and KAT) in Day-7 blastocysts were significantly upregulated by the addition of LR-BSA. The results indicated that LR-BSA enhanced hatching ability and quality of porcine blastocysts produced in vitro, as determined by ATP content, blastocyst diameter and expression levels of the specific genes, suggesting that the stimulatory effects of LR-BSA arise from lipids bound to albumin.
In mice, transcription from the zygotic genome is initiated at the mid-1-cell stage after fertilization. Although a recent high-throughput sequencing (HTS) analysis revealed that this transcription occurs promiscuously throughout almost the entire genome in 1-cell stage embryos, a detailed investigation of this process has yet to be conducted using protein-coding genes. Thus, the present study utilized previous RNA sequencing (RNAseq) data to determine the characteristics and regulatory regions of genes transcribed at the 1-cell stage. While the expression patterns of protein-coding genes of mouse embryos were very different at the 1-cell stage than at other stages and in various tissues, an analysis for the upstream and downstream regions of actively expressed genes did not reveal any elements that were specific to 1-cell stage embryos. Therefore, the unique gene expression pattern observed at the 1-cell stage in mouse embryos appears to be governed by mechanisms independent of a specific promoter element.
Pituitary-specific transcription factor PROP1, a factor important for pituitary organogenesis, appears on rat embryonic day 11.5 (E11.5) in SOX2-expressing stem/progenitor cells and always coexists with SOX2 throughout life. PROP1-positive cells at one point occupy all cells in Rathke’s pouch, followed by a rapid decrease in their number. Their regulatory factors, except for RBP-J, have not yet been clarified. This study aimed to use the 3 kb upstream region and 1st intron of mouse prop1 to pinpoint a group of factors selected on the basis of expression in the early pituitary gland for expression of Prop1. Reporter assays for SOX2 and RBP-J showed that the stem/progenitor marker SOX2 has cell type-dependent inhibitory and activating functions through the proximal and distal upstream regions of Prop1, respectively, while RBP-J had small regulatory activity in some cell lines. Reporter assays for another 39 factors using the 3 kb upstream regions in CHO cells ultimately revealed that 8 factors, MSX2, PAX6, PIT1, PITX1, PITX2, RPF1, SOX8 and SOX11, but not RBP-J, regulate Prop1 expression. Furthermore, a synergy effect with SOX2 was observed for an additional 10 factors, FOXJ1, HES1, HEY1, HEY2, KLF6, MSX1, RUNX1, TEAD2, YBX2 and ZFP36Ll, which did not show substantial independent action. Thus, we demonstrated 19 candidates, including SOX2, to be regulatory factors of Prop1 expression.
Low doses of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) used in combination may act in a manner different from that of individual compounds. The objective of the study was to examine in vitro effects of low doses of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD; 100 pM) and genistein (500 nM) on: 1) progesterone (P4) and estradiol (E2) secretion (48 h); 2) dynamic changes in aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) mRNA and protein expression (1, 3, 6, 24 and 48 h); 3) dynamic changes in estrogen receptor β (ERβ) mRNA and protein expression (1, 3, 6, 24 and 48 h); and 4) induction of apoptosis in porcine granulosa cells derived from medium follicles (3, 6 and 24 h). TCDD had no effect on P4 or E2 production, but potentiated the inhibitory effect of genistein on P4 production. In contrast to the individual treatments which did not produce any effects, TCDD and genistein administered together decreased ERβ and AhR protein expression in granulosa cells. Moreover, the inhibitory effect of TCDD on AhR mRNA expression was abolished by genistein. The treatments did not induce apoptosis in the cells. In summary, combined effects of low concentrations of TCDD and genistein on follicular function of pigs differed from that of individual compounds. The results presented in the current paper clearly indicate that effects exerted by low doses of EDCs applied in combination must be taken into consideration when studying potential risk effects of EDCs on biological processes.
Here, we report a new method for measuring behavioral patterns during estrus in goats based on video tracking analysis. Data were collected from cycling goats, which were in estrus (n = 8) or not in estrus (n = 8). An observation pen (2.5 m × 2.5 m) was set up in the corner of the female paddock with one side adjacent to a male paddock. The positions and movements of goats were tracked every 0.5 sec for 10 min by using a video tracking software, and the trajectory data were used for the analysis. There were no significant differences in the durations of standing and walking or the total length of movement. However, the number of approaches to a male and the duration of staying near the male were higher in goats in estrus than in goats not in estrus. The proposed evaluation method may be suitable for detailed monitoring of behavioral changes during estrus in goats.
Production of knockout mice using targeted embryonic stem cells (ESCs) is a powerful approach for investigating the function of specific genes in vivo. Although the protocol for gene targeting via homologous recombination (HR) in ESCs is already well established, the targeting efficiency varies at different target loci and is sometimes too low. It is known that knockdown of the Bloom syndrome gene, BLM, enhances HR-mediated gene targeting efficiencies in various cell lines. However, it has not yet been investigated whether this approach in ESCs is applicable for successful knockout mouse production. Therefore, we attempted to answer this question. Consistent with previous reports, Blm knockdown enhanced gene targeting efficiencies for three gene loci that we examined by 2.3–4.1-fold. Furthermore, the targeted ESC clones generated good chimeras and were successful in germline transmission. These data suggest that Blm knockdown provides a general benefit for efficient ESC-based and HR-mediated knockout mouse production.